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Edward S. Curtis photogravure plates and proofs for The North American Indian

Photographer:
Curtis, Edward S., 1868-1952  Search this
Extent:
96 photomechanical prints (photogravure proofs)
184 printing plates (copper printing plates)
Culture:
Twana  Search this
Hoh  Search this
Walla Walla (Wallawalla)  Search this
Wishram  Search this
Suquamish  Search this
Skokomish  Search this
Quinault  Search this
Quileute  Search this
Apache  Search this
Tolowa  Search this
Hupa  Search this
Hopi Pueblo  Search this
Squaxon  Search this
Mewuk (Miwok)  Search this
Achomawi (Pit River)  Search this
Klamath  Search this
Yurok  Search this
Kumeyaay (Diegueño)  Search this
Cayuse  Search this
Northern Paiute (Paviotso)  Search this
Santa Ysabel (Santa Isabela) Diegueño  Search this
Kalispel (Pend d'Oreilles)  Search this
Salish (Flathead)  Search this
Spokan  Search this
Yakama (Yakima)  Search this
Sahnish (Arikara)  Search this
Numakiki (Mandan)  Search this
Pikuni Blackfeet (Piegan)  Search this
Tsitsistas/Suhtai (Cheyenne)  Search this
Sicangu Lakota (Brulé Sioux)  Search this
Nimi'ipuu (Nez Perce)  Search this
A'aninin (Gros Ventre)  Search this
Apsáalooke (Crow/Absaroke)  Search this
Tsuu T'ina (Sarcee)  Search this
Kainai Blackfoot (Kainah/Blood)  Search this
Denésoliné (Chipewyan)  Search this
Cree  Search this
Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan Pueblo)  Search this
San Ildefonso Pueblo  Search this
Tewa Pueblos  Search this
A:shiwi (Zuni)  Search this
Kewa (Santo Domingo Pueblo)  Search this
K'apovi (Santa Clara Pueblo)  Search this
Laguna Pueblo  Search this
Jemez Pueblo  Search this
Serrano  Search this
Washoe (Washo)  Search this
Kutzadika'a (Mono Paiute)  Search this
Kupangaxwichem (Kupa/Cupeño)  Search this
Piipaash (Maricopa)  Search this
Diné (Navajo)  Search this
Oglala Lakota (Oglala Sioux)  Search this
Quechan (Yuma/Cuchan)  Search this
Hualapai (Walapai)  Search this
Akimel O'odham (Pima)  Search this
Tohono O'odham (Papago)  Search this
Mojave (Mohave)  Search this
Niuam (Comanche)  Search this
Wichita  Search this
Ponca  Search this
Osage  Search this
Yokuts  Search this
Chukchansi Yokuts  Search this
Southern Mewuk (Southern Miwok)  Search this
Wailaki  Search this
Pomo  Search this
Wappo  Search this
Maidu  Search this
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photomechanical prints
Printing plates
Photogravures
Photographs
Date:
1899-1927
circa 1980
Summary:
The Edward S. Curtis photogravure plates and proofs for The North American Indian include photogravure printing plates and associated proofs made from Curtis photographs and used in the publication of The North American Indian volumes 1-9 and 12-19. The bulk of the images are portraits, though there are also images of everyday items, ceremonial artifacts, and camps.
Scope and Contents:
The collection comprises 183 photogravure plates (101 folio and 82 octavo) and 96 associated proofs used in the printing of The North American Indian volumes 1-9 and 12-19. The original photographs used to make the photogravures were made circa 1903-1926 and the photogravure plates were made in 1907-1930. The bulk are portraits, though there are also images of everyday items, ceremonial artifacts, and camps. About half of the proofs in the collection are originals used for Curtis's publication, though the collection also includes proofs made in the process of later publication by the Classic Gravure Company (circa 1980). Vintage proofs include handwritten notes, likely made by Curtis Studio employees in Seattle and Los Angeles. Many of the photogravure plates do not have matching proofs; in particular, there are no proofs for the octavo plates.
Arrangement:
The plates and proofs are arranged by the volume of The North American Indian in which they were published. They are described in this finding aid by the caption and plate number with which they were published.
Biographical / Historical:
Edward Sheriff Curtis (1868-1952) was an American photographer best known for his monumental and now-controversial project, the twenty-volume publication The North American Indian. Here he sought to document in words and pictures the "vanishing race" of American Indians.

Born in Wisconsin in 1868, Edward Curtis grew up on his family's farm in Le Sueur County, Minnesota, from 1874 to 1887. In 1887, he and his father Johnson Curtis settled on a plot near what is now Port Orchard, Washington, and the rest of the family joined them the following year. When Johnson Curtis died within a month of the family's arrival, the burden of providing for his mother and siblings fell to 20-year-old Edward, and Edward set out to do so through his photography. In 1891, Curtis moved to the booming city of Seattle and bought into a joint photo studio with Rasmus Rothi. Less than a year later, he formed "Curtis and Guptill, Photographers and Photoengravers" with Thomas Guptill; the enterprise quickly became a premier portrait studio for Seattle's elite. In 1895, Curtis made his first "Indian photograph" depicting Princess Angeline, daughter of the chief for whom Seattle had been named. The following year he earned his first medal from the National Photographic Convention for his "genre studies."

In 1899, Edward Curtis joined the Harriman Alaska Expedition as official photographer, a position which allowed him to learn from anthropologists C. Hart Merriam and George Bird Grinnell while documenting the landscapes and peoples of the Alaskan coast. This expedition and the resulting friendship with Grinnell helped to foster Curtis's ultimate goal to "form a comprehensive and permanent record of all the important tribes of the United States and Alaska that still retain to a considerable degree their primitive customs and traditions" (General Introduction, The North American Indian). Curtis made several trips to reservations from 1900 to 1904, including a trip with Grinnell to Montana in 1900 and multiple trips to the Southwest, including the Hopi Reservation. He also hired Adolph Muhr, former assistant to Omaha photographer Frank A. Rinehart, to manage the Curtis studio in his absence, a decision which would prove more and more fruitful as Curtis spent less and less time in Seattle.

In 1906, Curtis struck a deal with financier J. P. Morgan, whereby Morgan would support a company – The North American Indian, Inc. – with $15,000 for five years, by which time the project was expected to have ended. Systematic fieldwork for the publication began in earnest that summer season, with Curtis accompanied by a team of ethnological researchers and American Indian assistants. Arguably the most important member of Curtis' field team was William Myers, a former newspaperman who collected much of the ethnological data and completed most of the writing for the project. The first volume, covering Navajo and Apache peoples, was published at the end of 1907, but already Morgan's funding was incapable of meeting Curtis's needs. Despite heaping praise from society's elite, Curtis spent much of his time struggling to find people and institutions willing to subscribe to the expensive set of volumes. After the initial five years, only eight of the proposed twenty volumes had been completed. Fieldwork and publication continued with the support of J. P. Morgan, but Curtis's home life suffered because of his prolonged absences.

In 1919, Curtis's wife Clara was awarded a divorce settlement which included the entire Curtis studio in Seattle. Exhausted and bankrupt, Edward Curtis moved with his daughter Beth Magnuson to Los Angeles, where they operated a new Curtis Studio and continued work on the volumes; volume 12 was published in 1922. The constant financial strain forced Myers to leave the North American Indian team after volume 18 (fieldwork in 1926) and Curtis made his last trip to photograph and gather data for volume 20 in 1927. After the final volumes were published in 1930, Curtis almost completely faded from public notice until his work was "rediscovered" and popularized in the 1970s.

Curtis's "salvage ethnology," as scholar Mick Gidley describes it, was mildly controversial even during his life and has become ever more so as his legacy deepens. In his quest to photograph pre-colonial Indian life through a twentieth-century lens, he often manipulated and constructed history as much as he recorded it: he staged reenactments, added props, and removed evidence of twentieth-century influences on "primitive" life. Curtis's work continues to shape popular conceptions of American Indians and so, while problematic, his legacy--his vision of American Indian life--continues to be relevant.
Related Materials:
NMAI also holds Edward Curtis photographs documenting the Harriman Expedition (1899) as well as platinum prints and photogravures of the images published in The North American Indian.

The Smithsonian Institution, National Anthropological Archives holds Edward Curtis prints submitted for copyright (Photo Lot 59) as well as many of his original negatives, photographs, and papers.

Steve Kern donated photogravure plates to the Center for Creative Photography and the Seattle Art Museum at the same time that he donated this set to MAI.
Provenance:
This collection was donated by Steven and Arlene Kern to the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, in 1984.
Restrictions:
Access to NMAI Archive Center collections is by appointment only, Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Please contact the archives to make an appointment (phone: 301-238-1400, email: nmaiarchives@si.edu).
Rights:
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish or broadcast materials from the collection must be requested from National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center. Please submit a written request to nmaiarchives@si.edu.
Topic:
Indians of North America -- Pictorial works  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photogravures
Photographs
Citation:
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Edward S. Curtis photogravure plates and proofs for The North American Indian, Box and Folder Number; National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
NMAI.AC.080
See more items in:
Edward S. Curtis photogravure plates and proofs for The North American Indian
Archival Repository:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmai-ac-080
Online Media:

Mask

Culture/People:
probably Squaxon (attributed)  Search this
Artist/Maker:
attributed to Douglas Tobin, Squaxon  Search this
Donor:
Irene Hirano Inouye (Mrs. Daniel K. Inouye), Non-Indian, 1948-2020  Search this
Previous owner:
Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Non-Indian, 1924-2012  Search this
Object Name:
Mask
Media/Materials:
Cedar, cedar bark, ermine skin/fur, paint, horsehair, feather/feathers, abalone/haliotis shell
Techniques:
Carved, painted, tied
Dimensions:
108.0 x 33.5 x 15.2 cm
Object Type:
Works of Art (Other)
Place:
Washington; USA (inferred)
Date created:
1999
Catalog Number:
26/9078
Barcode:
269078.000
See related items:
Squaxon
Works of Art (Other)
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:NMAI_407784
Online Media:

Plate 307: Squaxon matron

Collection Photographer:
Curtis, Edward S., 1868-1952  Search this
Extent:
1 photomechanical print
1 printing plate
Container:
Box F22
Type:
Archival materials
Photographs
Photomechanical prints
Printing plates
Date:
1912
Collection Restrictions:
Access to NMAI Archive Center collections is by appointment only, Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Please contact the archives to make an appointment (phone: 301-238-1400, email: nmaiarchives@si.edu).
Collection Rights:
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish or broadcast materials from the collection must be requested from National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center. Please submit a written request to nmaiarchives@si.edu.
Collection Citation:
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Edward S. Curtis photogravure plates and proofs for The North American Indian, Box and Folder Number; National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Edward S. Curtis photogravure plates and proofs for The North American Indian
Edward S. Curtis photogravure plates and proofs for The North American Indian / Series 9: Volume 9
Archival Repository:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmai-ac-080-ref134

Basket

Culture/People:
Squaxon  Search this
Previous owner:
Mrs. Dick Jackson, Squaxon  Search this
Collector:
Dr. Thomas Talbot Waterman (T. T. Waterman), Non-Indian, 1885-1936  Search this
Object Name:
Basket
Media/Materials:
Conifer root, equisetum, hide thong/babiche
Techniques:
Coiled, imbricated
Object Type:
Containers and Vessels
Native Term:
sba'did
Place:
Squaxin Island; Squaxin Island Reservation; Thurston County; Washington; USA
Island Name:
Squaxin Island
Island Grouping:
Puget Sound Islands
Catalog Number:
9/7596
Barcode:
097596.000
See related items:
Squaxon
Containers and Vessels
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:NMAI_105530
Online Media:

Basket

Culture/People:
Squaxon  Search this
Previous owner:
Mrs. Dick Jackson, Squaxon  Search this
Collector:
Dr. Thomas Talbot Waterman (T. T. Waterman), Non-Indian, 1885-1936  Search this
Object Name:
Basket
Media/Materials:
Conifer root, equisetum, cherry bark, hide thong/babiche
Techniques:
Coiled, imbricated
Object Type:
Containers and Vessels
Native Term:
sbaditoltc
Place:
Squaxin Island; Squaxin Island Reservation; Thurston County; Washington; USA
Island Name:
Squaxin Island
Island Grouping:
Puget Sound Islands
Catalog Number:
9/7597
Barcode:
097597.000
See related items:
Squaxon
Containers and Vessels
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:NMAI_105531
Online Media:

Burden strap/Tumpline

Culture/People:
Squaxon  Search this
Collector:
Dr. Thomas Talbot Waterman (T. T. Waterman), Non-Indian, 1885-1936  Search this
Object Name:
Burden strap/Tumpline
Media/Materials:
Vegetal Fiber, wool yarn
Techniques:
Woven
Object Type:
Transportation Items
Place:
Squaxin Island; Squaxin Island Reservation; Thurston County; Washington; USA
Island Name:
Squaxin Island
Island Grouping:
Puget Sound Islands
Catalog Number:
9/7598
Barcode:
097598.000
See related items:
Squaxon
Transportation Items
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:NMAI_105532
Online Media:

Mat

Culture/People:
Squaxon  Search this
Previous owner:
Annie Bob, Squaxon  Search this
Collector:
Dr. Thomas Talbot Waterman (T. T. Waterman), Non-Indian, 1885-1936  Search this
Object Name:
Mat
Media/Materials:
Cattail, cordage
Techniques:
Stitched, braided, twined
Dimensions:
180 x 110 cm
Object Type:
Furnishings (Home)
Place:
West of Olympia; Totten Inlet (Oyster Bay); Thurston County, Mason County; Washington; USA
Date created:
1900-1910
Catalog Number:
9/7662
Barcode:
097662.000
See related items:
Squaxon
Furnishings (Home)
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:NMAI_105597
Online Media:

Mat

Culture/People:
Squaxon  Search this
Previous owner:
Annie Bob, Squaxon  Search this
Collector:
Dr. Thomas Talbot Waterman (T. T. Waterman), Non-Indian, 1885-1936  Search this
Object Name:
Mat
Media/Materials:
Cattail, cordage
Techniques:
Stitched
Dimensions:
180 x 95 cm
Object Type:
Furnishings (Home)
Place:
West of Olympia; Totten Inlet (Oyster Bay); Thurston County, Mason County; Washington; USA
Catalog Number:
9/7662
Barcode:
097662.001
See related items:
Squaxon
Furnishings (Home)
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:NMAI_105598

Adze

Culture/People:
Squaxon  Search this
Previous owner:
Annie Bob, Squaxon  Search this
Collector:
Dr. Thomas Talbot Waterman (T. T. Waterman), Non-Indian, 1885-1936  Search this
Object Name:
Adze
Media/Materials:
Wood, iron, elk hide/skin
Techniques:
Carved
Object Type:
Woodworking tools
Place:
West of Olympia; Totten Inlet (Oyster Bay); Thurston County, Mason County; Washington; USA
Catalog Number:
9/7663
Barcode:
097663.000
See related items:
Squaxon
Woodworking tools
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:NMAI_105599
Online Media:

Maul/Hammer head fragment

Culture/People:
Squaxon  Search this
Previous owner:
Annie Bob, Squaxon  Search this
Collector:
Dr. Thomas Talbot Waterman (T. T. Waterman), Non-Indian, 1885-1936  Search this
Object Name:
Maul/Hammer head fragment
Media/Materials:
Stone
Techniques:
Pecked
Object Type:
Tools and Equipment (General)
Place:
West of Olympia; Totten Inlet (Oyster Bay); Thurston County, Mason County; Washington; USA
Catalog Number:
9/7664
Barcode:
097664.000
See related items:
Squaxon
Tools and Equipment (General)
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:NMAI_105600
Online Media:

Spoon

Culture/People:
Squaxon  Search this
Previous owner:
Mother of Annie Bob, Squaxon  Search this
Collector:
Dr. Thomas Talbot Waterman (T. T. Waterman), Non-Indian, 1885-1936  Search this
Object Name:
Spoon
Media/Materials:
Wood
Techniques:
Carved
Object Type:
Food/Beverage Serving
Place:
West of Olympia; Totten Inlet (Oyster Bay); Thurston County, Mason County; Washington; USA
Catalog Number:
9/7665
Barcode:
097665.000
See related items:
Squaxon
Food/Beverage Serving
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:NMAI_105601
Online Media:

Mat needle

Culture/People:
Squaxon  Search this
Previous owner:
Annie Bob, Squaxon  Search this
Collector:
Dr. Thomas Talbot Waterman (T. T. Waterman), Non-Indian, 1885-1936  Search this
Object Name:
Mat needle
Media/Materials:
Wood
Techniques:
Carved
Object Type:
Basketmaking and fiber-working tools
Place:
West of Olympia; Totten Inlet (Oyster Bay); Thurston County, Mason County; Washington; USA
Catalog Number:
9/7666
Barcode:
097666.000
See related items:
Squaxon
Basketmaking and fiber-working tools
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:NMAI_105602
Online Media:

Bag

Culture/People:
probably Yakama (Yakima) (attributed); collected among the Squaxon  Search this
Collector:
Dr. Thomas Talbot Waterman (T. T. Waterman), Non-Indian, 1885-1936  Search this
Object Name:
Bag
Media/Materials:
Sagebrush bark, cornhusk, wool yarn
Techniques:
Twined
Object Type:
Bags/Pouches (and parts)
Place:
West of Olympia; Totten Inlet (Oyster Bay); Thurston County, Mason County; Washington; USA
Catalog Number:
9/7667
Barcode:
097667.000
See related items:
Yakama (Yakima)
Squaxon
Bags/Pouches (and parts)
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:NMAI_105603
Online Media:

Basket

Culture/People:
Squaxon  Search this
Artist/Maker:
Annie Parker, Squaxon  Search this
Previous owner:
Annie Bob, Squaxon  Search this
Collector:
Dr. Thomas Talbot Waterman (T. T. Waterman), Non-Indian, 1885-1936  Search this
Object Name:
Basket
Media/Materials:
Conifer root
Techniques:
Coiled
Object Type:
Containers and Vessels
Place:
West of Olympia; Totten Inlet (Oyster Bay); Thurston County, Mason County; Washington; USA
Catalog Number:
9/7668
Barcode:
097668.000
See related items:
Squaxon
Containers and Vessels
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:NMAI_105604
Online Media:

Basket bowl

Culture/People:
Squaxon  Search this
Artist/Maker:
Annie Parker, Squaxon  Search this
Previous owner:
Annie Bob, Squaxon  Search this
Collector:
Dr. Thomas Talbot Waterman (T. T. Waterman), Non-Indian, 1885-1936  Search this
Object Name:
Basket bowl
Media/Materials:
Conifer root, equisetum, cedar bark, cherry bark
Techniques:
Coiled, imbricated
Object Type:
Containers and Vessels
Native Term:
xaiyexwco'ltc
Place:
West of Olympia; Totten Inlet (Oyster Bay); Thurston County, Mason County; Washington; USA
Catalog Number:
9/7669
Barcode:
097669.000
See related items:
Squaxon
Containers and Vessels
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:NMAI_105605
Online Media:

Berry basket

Culture/People:
Squaxon  Search this
Previous owner:
Annie Bob, Squaxon  Search this
Collector:
Dr. Thomas Talbot Waterman (T. T. Waterman), Non-Indian, 1885-1936  Search this
Object Name:
Berry basket
Media/Materials:
Conifer root, bear grass
Techniques:
Twined
Object Type:
Food Gathering and Preparation
Place:
West of Olympia; Totten Inlet (Oyster Bay); Thurston County, Mason County; Washington; USA
Catalog Number:
9/7670
Barcode:
097670.000
See related items:
Squaxon
Food Gathering and Preparation
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:NMAI_105606
Online Media:

Cordage

Culture/People:
Squaxon  Search this
Previous owner:
Annie Bob, Squaxon  Search this
Collector:
Dr. Thomas Talbot Waterman (T. T. Waterman), Non-Indian, 1885-1936  Search this
Object Name:
Cordage
Media/Materials:
Cattail
Techniques:
Twisted, plied
Object Type:
Materials: Prepared
Place:
West of Olympia; Totten Inlet (Oyster Bay); Thurston County, Mason County; Washington; USA
Date created:
1900-1920
Catalog Number:
9/7671
Barcode:
097671.000
See related items:
Squaxon
Materials: Prepared
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:NMAI_105607
Online Media:

Berry rake

Culture/People:
Squaxon  Search this
Previous owner:
Annie Bob, Squaxon  Search this
Collector:
Dr. Thomas Talbot Waterman (T. T. Waterman), Non-Indian, 1885-1936  Search this
Object Name:
Berry rake
Media/Materials:
Cow horn
Techniques:
Carved
Dimensions:
11 x 4 cm
Object Type:
Food Gathering and Preparation
Native Term:
s1qwi'l
Place:
West of Olympia; Totten Inlet (Oyster Bay); Thurston County, Mason County; Washington; USA
Catalog Number:
9/7672
Barcode:
097672.000
See related items:
Squaxon
Food Gathering and Preparation
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:NMAI_105608
Online Media:

Basket "start"

Culture/People:
Squaxon  Search this
Previous owner:
Annie Bob, Squaxon  Search this
Collector:
Dr. Thomas Talbot Waterman (T. T. Waterman), Non-Indian, 1885-1936  Search this
Object Name:
Basket "start"
Media/Materials:
Conifer root
Techniques:
Coiled
Object Type:
Containers and Vessels
Place:
West of Olympia; Totten Inlet (Oyster Bay); Thurston County, Mason County; Washington; USA
Catalog Number:
9/7673
Barcode:
097673.000
See related items:
Squaxon
Containers and Vessels
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:NMAI_105609
Online Media:

Basket

Culture/People:
Squaxon  Search this
Collector:
Dr. Thomas Talbot Waterman (T. T. Waterman), Non-Indian, 1885-1936  Search this
Object Name:
Basket
Media/Materials:
Conifer root, equisetum, cherry bark
Techniques:
Coiled, imbricated
Object Type:
Containers and Vessels
Place:
Squaxin Island; Squaxin Island Reservation; Thurston County; Washington; USA
Island Name:
Squaxin Island
Island Grouping:
Puget Sound Islands
Catalog Number:
9/7674
Barcode:
097674.000
See related items:
Squaxon
Containers and Vessels
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:NMAI_105610
Online Media:

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